Talking to Your Kids About Patriot Day

If you’re like me and lived through the events of September 11, 2001, you still remember that awful  and emotional day. Hi, everyone. Zula Talmadge here from the Shady Pines Gazette news. It’s come to my attention that we need to tell youngsters about the historic  day when the twin towers in downtown New York City were reduced to ash. We must remind them about the other places that were attakced, too.

Kids need to know on this date every year we all say, “Never Forget.” We do this to honor the thousands of lives lost that day and in the days that followed. So many innocent people going about their daily lives never made it home after the planes flew into their targets. I know I’d never experienced an act of terrorism like that before. I was stunned as I watched with disbelief as news of the tragedy flickered on our TV screens. It seemed like a bad movie. It couldn’t be real.

First, there was shock. No one could believe that our country was being attacked in this way. And then we saw so many brave policemen, firemen, and other first responders race in to help others. Many didn’t come back alive. It was all too much to bear.

Enough years have passed that students in school now were either not born yet or not old enough to remember the events of 9/11. I’m sure it’s hard for anyone who did not live through that day to understand the full scope of the emotions we felt. None of us at the time could know the impact it had not only on our country, but on our individual lives. We would never feel as safe again.

September 11th is now known as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.  To the children in Shady Pines Story Town today, this date may only be a chapter in a history book. Our challenge as reportrs, parents or educators is to explain the true significance of this day in our nation’s history.

As you try to explain 9/11 to your child, here are two truths to be learned from that day. These are lessons that go beyond the news reports, textbooks, or facts associated with this tragedy. Obviously, all discussions should be appropriate to the age and maturity of the individual child.

America is strong

A remarkable reaction on 9-11 was the unity, compassion, and strength that flowed through our country. Strangers cried together, held hands, ran to help each other, stood in lines to donate blood, and rallied together. It was an inspiring bond we shared through our tears.

As deep and painful as our wounds were, a sense of brotherhood swept over our nation in a way many of us may have never before seen in our lifetime. Above the black smoke and rubble, America still stood as a country ready for the long fight ahead. We could really feel hope and determination because of the spirit of our people.

Heroism lives within us.

In the days and weeks following September 11th, stories we heard countless stories of the heroes who  went above and beyond. Emergency personnel and first responders ran into buildings when everyone else was running out. Some must have known they could be running to their deaths. Co-workers turned around back into the smoke to save someone they heard calling for help. Brave young soldiers felt the call to serve and enlisted to help defend and protect the country they love.

The heroism demonstrated that day by so many is overwhelming. The thing is, these people woke up that morning just like the rest of us. They did not know what was to be asked of them in the next couple of hours. But, when it came time, they got up the courage needed and answered the call.

It is important while discussing the events of September 11th that you listen to any questions a child might ask. I know when I talk to kids about 9-11, I do my best to ease any fears or worries they have. One of our teachers has them draw a picture or write a letter. By doing that, kids express their thoughts and emotions after learning about this tragic yet courageous day.

To the innocent mind of  a child, it may be difficult for them to really understand the importance of Patriot Day. That’s OK. What they can learn, is that we live in a country that turned fear into bravery, and vulnerability into strength. They should realize that, just like the heroes of 9/11, being a citizen and a friend means helping those around you. Here in Shady Pines we always encourage volunteering in the community, being a kind neighbor and classmate, and being aware and concerned when they see a friend in need.

If you live near any of the September 11th memorials like the one in New York City, Patriot Day is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of hands-on learning. Children will be able to witness firsthand or on the internet, the tributes to the victims and heroes. The legacy of these brave men and women live on in these memorials and museums. The lessons of their heroism lives on in each and every one of us.

May we indeed truly never forget the lives lost that tragic September day, and may this Patriot Day 2020 be spent soaking in the beauty all around us, while celebrating the bravery of Americans then and now. So many of our current heroes are fighting a different and invisible, enemy named, Covid 19. So let us celebrate the strength of their efforts, our country, and cherish every moment with our loved ones. – Zulah out!